At this juncture of the region’s history, it needs the movement of people and capital to grow.
Barbados’ ambassador to CARICOM, Robert “Bobby” Morris, expressed this view recently while participating in a panel discussion on the topic: Opportunities, Challenges, and Solutions to the Movement of People and Business in CARICOM at the Grand Salle, Tom Adams Financial Centre, Church Village, the City.
The veteran trade unionist argued that it was not a case of a huge mass of people moving across the region basically doing nothing substantial, but about the movement of people in capital.
He argued that the movement of people in capital was the real driver of the Caribbean integration movement.†The diplomat lamented the fact that the Caribbean has not seen many inter-regional businesses that have survived.
“We are looking forward to the pipeline project from Trinidad and Tobago — a huge Caribbean project that we should look forward to. We are hoping that both the Suriname and the Jagdeo projects come to fruition.
“We recognise that there are significant resources in banks, corporations and insurance companies which must be more open to risk taking and we look forward to more regional businesses with regional shareholding, creating populations that become more accustomed to saving and investment. Driving all the above is a sea of change that must transform our educational system to make the free movement of people in capital possible,” Morris said.
The ambassador said he envisaged Sir Kippins Simpson’s mega-agricultural investment in Guyana expanding from 10,000 to 90,000 acres and encouraged his audience to think about the prospects of employment for skilled workers when a project of this magnitude comes on stream.
He queried if the skilled workers of the region were preparing themselves as the region breaks into the BRIC market, the EU and the Latin American markets.
“Once you start that mega size operation, the vacuum that you would have for skills and services will be very great. I also believe that once that project becomes a success, there will be a second project and a third project. Growth will be exponential. There will not only growth for Guyana, but for other countries.
“Our question then is who is the next person with the audacity of imagination to say ‘I will do what Sir Kiffin is doing in Guyana, in Suriname and Belize’. Now believe me, that is what is going to drive your services sector.
“I am not pessimistic, but the idea that you are going to drive the services sector by individuals leaving one country and becoming hairdressers in another … is not going to drive CARICOM,” Morris argued.
He argued that if mega-projects are established, the need for service providers such as lawyers, accountants and hairdressers and teachers will arise.†Morris maintained that at this stage of the region’s development it needed people with the enterprising spirit of a Mellon, Rockefeller and Carnegie of 19th century America. (NC) ††